A Simple Definition of Wealth
Russian Baptists Visit the War Zones of Eastern Ukraine
M o s c o w -- A report on Eastern Ukraine published on the website of the “Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists” on 16 December offers a simple definition of wealth: “Warm heaters, light, cold and hot water, food in the fridge”. A team of Baptists from the Kransnodar and Rostov regions, which just visited the war-torn region held by separatists for the third time, reports of villages which have been with electricity, water and phone contact for more than three months. Despite humanitarian aid from the Russian government, “villages exist in which people are literally starving. Conditions there are worse than simply difficult – they’re horrible.”
In a district of Lugansk, Baptist helpers were able to install a generator which allowed the residents of neighbouring apartment buildings to charge mobile phones, laptops and batteries. They also located a well with drinking water and used a pump and generator to fill 250 five-litre bottles of water for distribution every day.
Problems are compounded by the fact that often only the elderly remain at home. Able-bodied men with families have chosen to flee the area for the sake of their children. Pastors are also in very short supply. The recent team reported that an honest-and-sincere conversation expressing empathy and care is what the elderly and needy appreciate most of all.
The team also reported of a spiritual awakening. Some church buildings are doing double duty as shelters or soup kitchens. They’re seen as “islands of hope” or “heavenly cafeterias” for believers and unbelievers alike. “In the face of need, everyone, whether Orthodox, Protestant, or an unbeliever, prays. When confronted with death, we are all united.” Then, passports and reputations no longer count. The group continued: “How one can remain an unbeliever in war situations? That’s really a tough question!” People speak mostly in terms of “before” and “after” the outbreak of hostilities.
This last tour was led by Vladimir Drok, the Senior Pastor of Rostov region. It included a large number of better-know locations such as Lugansk, Shakhtorsk, Sverdlovsk, Bryanka, Alchevsk and Krasny Luch. During the past summer, Rostov-region Baptists had been most active in aiding refugees housed in tent cities within Russia..
For those willing to help: The volunteers in Rostov-on-Don report that non-spoilable foodstuffs are always welcome: grains, flour and noodles. Items of personal hygiene and medicines are also always in short-supply.
Aid coordinator for the Baptist work in Eastern Ukraine is Arina Volodina in Kasnodar: mobile +7 909 425 2527 or “firstname.lastname@example.org“. If language problems arise, send our department an email.
Those wishing to contribute to the humanitarian cause through the (West) Ukrainian side can contact Baptist Union headquarters in Kiev. Contact person is Pastor Sergey Moroz, +380 95-386-77-37or +380 63-616-41-85, “email@example.com”. Both secretaries in the Kiev front office speak English: +380 44 234 8241 or +380 44 234 1676, “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Some aid sent through Kiev is distributed in regions held by separatist forces.
Dr. William Yoder
Department for External Church Affairs, RUECB
Moscow, 22 December 2014
This is an official statement from the Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists, Office for External Church Relations. This release may be reprinted free-of-charge if the source is cited. Release #14-16, 479 words.